Teenager Designs Device to Clean 7 Million Kg of Plastic From the Ocean
Plastic in the world’s oceans isn’t limited to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—on average, a square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of plastic, and there are four other major gyres filled with concentrated plastic. Bigger pieces can wash ashore and kill seals, and smaller pieces are often mistaken for food by fish and birds. Because the debris eventually degrades into tiny pieces and sinks toward the ocean floor, it’s an incredible challenge to clean up.
A Dutch student, Boyan Slat, began working on a potential solution when he was 17 (he’s now 19 and an aerospace engineering student at Delft University of Technology). His Ocean Cleanup Array is designed to use the rotating currents of the ocean to do the work: floating booms and processing platforms, anchored in place in a gyre, would act as giant funnels for the plastic trash as it swirls by. The angle of the booms is designed to force the plastic inside, and the platforms filter the trash from water and plankton. Collected plastic would be stored and eventually transported to land for sale or recycling—potentially making the project financially profitable.
Click through to read the article at Good or click here to go directly to Boyan’s (carbon neutral) website, where he details the engineering of his device and potential plans for its implementation. The team is currently conducting a feasibility study, though the preliminary results “look promising”.
What do you guys think of this? I’m optimistic, although having sailed the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre myself the task seems immense, to say the least. I struggle with the feasibility of anchoring these things to the sea floor, which is around 3-5 miles deep. I also wonder if the filtering system used here would only remove macroplastics or if it’d be fine enough to also process microplastics. However, most of the questions I had in mind while looking at the design concept of these filtering structures were actually answered in Boyan’s TED Talk. Check it out, it’s fascinating.
Also, if any of you are scientists who’d like to get involved, click here as the team is currently looking for fluid dynamics modelers, process engineers (mechanical), maritime structure engineers, MATLAB users, and plankton biologists.
Tagged as: engineering. engineers. plastic. plastics. Ocean Health. ocean plastics. microplastics. science. climate science. ocean. ocean acidification. macroplastics. news. photograph. NPSG. North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. gyres. five gyres. physics. fluid dynamics. ocean science. marine biology. oceanography. biological oceanography. maritime law. maritime structure. MATLAB. plankton. plankton biology. environmental science.
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